Top Apple engineer now heads AR/VR glasses development

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A Apple VR headset is an Open secret, as demonstrated by a recent patent filing.
An illustration from a recent Apple patent filing shows a possible VR headset.
Graphic: Apple

Dan Riccio, one of Apple’s top designers, is reportedly now concentrating all his efforts on the company’s virtual-reality visor and augmented-reality glasses.

Previously, he headed Apple’s hardware engineering team. Then Cupertino revealed in January that Riccio was transitioning to a new role. But it wouldn’t say what that role will be.

On Monday, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman apparently solved the mystery. “Riccio is focusing on the company’s upcoming virtual and augmented reality devices,” he wrote.

It’s apparently something Riccio’s thrilled about. In January, he said he is “focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about.” He just didn’t specify what that will be, leaving it up to this leak to answer the question.

Moving Apple VR/AR devices closer to reality

Apple almost never talks about products while they’re in mid-development, but work on a virtual-reality headset is an open secret. This will look similar to rival products from Oculus, but with very high-end features like an 8K display, according to a recent unconfirmed report.

Mike Rockwell is in charge of day-to-day development of the VR headset, according to Gurman. Riccio plays more of an oversight role. At the same time, he’s also overseeing work on Apple’s augmented-reality glasses. Pinning down exact details on unannounced projects isn’t an exact science, but the AR glasses are supposedly a separate project with different hardware and focus.

The Apple VR headset would replace reality with a computer-generated simulation. It’s for gaming, education, science and more. Apple’s AR glasses, in contrast, are expected to combine reality with computer-generated images. They’ll let someone walk down a street while seeing navigation directions and also reading their text messages.